When you look at a picture of a Tyrannosaurus rex, you can quickly figure out what they were built to do. With 6-12 inch teeth and a powerful jaw, as well as solid thighs and enormous feet, you see immediately that this dinosaur was built to run after and eat other dinosaurs. It would be terrifying to meet one in real life, but you may get one chuckle out of the experience - seeing its arms. T-rex’s are famous for their tiny arms, which look pretty funny compared to the other huge parts of their body.
While humans are proportioned differently than dinosaurs, we can be disproportionate in various ways. We can bring some of this asymmetry on ourselves if we exercise one part of the body and not another. Running is an activity that, if done alone, can easily create imbalances. In every sport, there has to be a complementary activity to balance the equation. For example, if you are a mountain biker, adding Pilates and a simple kettlebell lifting routine can help you improve performance and stay injury-free. For runners, weight training is key to keeping your body running for a lifetime.
Weight training can be a significant part of a well-rounded exercise routine, which is what we teach all of our runners at EW Motion Therapy. We want to help you implement cross-training practices that will condition your muscles so you can ultimately run better. Even if you do not choose us as a guide on your running journey, we want to offer tips on incorporating cross-training into your routine and becoming a more well-rounded athlete.
This article will discuss the benefits and risks of weight training and how you should incorporate some cross-training into your routine. With this information, you can continue running while developing better training habits.
Benefits and risks of weight training
Weight training, or strength training, can offer many benefits. Having a strong core, strong hips, strong legs, and good balance are essential to running with strength and stamina and being the best runner you can be. Strength training can improve your running posture, as well as your everyday posture, and it can also improve bone density, which can help prevent stress injuries and stress responses.
Your muscles work as shock absorbers for your joints and ligaments, and the stronger they are, the more force they can absorb, and the more they can work to protect you from serious injury. Having a stable musculoskeletal system allows you to train harder. This is because if you have balance and strength in your system, your body can tolerate more aggressive training programs.
An additional benefit is improved recovery - a muscle that is trained and strong recovers better, and when you recover better, you have improved training tolerance. Recovery should be an essential part of your routine because a recovered muscle is foundational to building strength and improved training practices.
While weight training can be beneficial for a runner, there are some risks involved. When you are just starting with weight training, it is easy to do the wrong workouts at the wrong time and intensity. You should start with small movements and lighter weights, and focus on a program that works your whole body.
Choosing a program that is age-appropriate is essential to prevent injury and maximize training tolerance. A lifting program for a teenager will be designed differently than a program for a seasoned adult runner. A teenage body is still developing and may still have open growth plates, which is why you may need professional advice in developing a successful strategy.
If you go into weight training without specific goals, you run the risk of not achieving what you want and not knowing why. If you want to become a better distance runner, your weight routine should focus on creating balance and avoiding injury, which are inherent in distance running. But if you are a sprinter, your program will prioritize lifting to improve power and speed, which creates a different body type and has a direct relationship to performance.
Whichever program you choose for your weight training, you should always exercise some caution as you begin and figure out what your body can handle before increasing the weight too quickly. Slow and steady really does win the race, and it’s always smart to consult a professional.
How to incorporate weight training into your routine
The primary goal of weight training or strength training is to achieve balance and equilibrium within your specific physiology. How frequently you weight train can vary based on your goals, but two days of weight training per week is a good place to start.
If you want to use weight training to improve your running, you should start by focusing on the three primary movements that are most likely to be neglected: dorsiflexion (ankle-foot), hip extension (gluteal strength), and core stabilization. This approach is good for any type of athlete, not just runners.
Many effective weight training applications don’t require actual weight training equipment to start. Some programs use only your bodyweight or minimal equipment (dumbells, kettlebells, Theraloops) to achieve strength goals, and they really work.
One of the most essential components to avoiding injury while lifting is developing proper technique and form. Building safe movement patterns, learning proper lifting sequences, and understanding how to safely apply loads are key to reducing injury. This often requires professional help and guidance. The recipe to improve will always be specific and unique to each person. There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. True expertise in customizing exercise programs is a must.
What else should be in my routine?
Now you know a bit more about weight training, and you can decide for yourself if it should become part of your fitness routine. Every runner should have a routine that prioritizes recovery, including weight training, as well as nutrition, sleep, and proper hydration. This kind of comprehensive practice will offer the most benefits.
We help our running clients at EW Motion Therapy incorporate weight training and recovery into their routines, so they can pursue great results without overtraining and better prevent the injury that comes with it. If you are interested in our EW Run program, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps.